The best plan is the one you can stick to.

This goes for training and for nutrition. If you hate it, if you can’t stand the thought of doing it, you’re probably not going to be able to maintain it.

This is why fad diets like Keto, South Beach and Atkins don’t work long-term. Will you lose weight in the first few weeks or months? Probably. Will you eventually fall off the wagon and put it all back on? If you’ve ever tried dieting, you already know the answer to this.

Enter the “80/20 Rule”. This method allows you to have the flexibility to still enjoy those foods you love like pizza, burgers, and beer without completely undoing all of your hard work.

Here’s how it works – 80% of the time, get all of your workouts in for the week, maintain a healthy diet of lean proteins, veggies, fruit, healthy fats, and stay at or below your daily calorie target. 20% of the time, allow yourself to enjoy some of the foods you like that may not be the healthiest choices.

If you’re consistently putting in the work, then allowing yourself a couple of “cheat meals” or even a “cheat day” each week is not going to ruin you.

Now, I understand that for some people, this does not work. If you know you have an unhealthy relationship with food, or if this method of “rewarding” yourself with food tends to cause a downward spiral and turn into multiple meals or days of poor eating, by all means, don’t do it. This would not be a good method for you.


80-20 rule

Being able to eat the foods you enjoy from time to time, while still staying within your calorie range or at least keeping it within reason, is going to be a lot less miserable than extreme deprivation 100% of the time.

When you actually plan out your “cheat meals” or your “cheat day”, it eliminates the feeling of failure or beating yourself up for getting off track. You planned it, you worked hard, you earned it, so enjoy it.

Just be forewarned that you may feel a little crappy afterward. I find that if I have planned a “cheat meal” in advance, I already know and accept the consequences of my actions. I will likely not feel great for a short time afterward but I can handle that. If you that doesn’t work for you, simply don’t do it.

There is no single right way to “do” fitness or nutrition. What works for some people may not work for others. In my view, fitness should enhance your life, not consume it. 

Committed To Your Health,

Brian DonovanBrian Donovan is a certified fitness and nutrition coach, and the founder of Online Fitness Coach, LLC – an online fitness program where clients get direct coaching and personally tailored training and nutrition plans. Coach Brian was voted Chicago’s “Best Personal Trainer” by Chicago Reader magazine, Best Of Chicago 2014 edition. He has been featured in magazines such as Muscle & Fitness, Chicago Reader, Voyage Chicago, and The PTDC as well various other health and fitness blogs.

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